Roast lamb threatens the planet
Tomatoes too! And don't mention booze! But Coca Cola and chocolate are OK. All of which shows what absurdities you end up with when you start from silly assumptions
GIVE up lamb roasts and save the planet. Government advisers are developing menus to combat climate change by cutting out "high carbon" food such as meat from sheep, whose burping poses a serious threat to the environment. Out will go kebabs, greenhouse tomatoes and alcohol. Instead, diners will be encouraged to consume more potatoes and seasonal vegetables, as well as pork and chicken, which generate fewer carbon emissions.
"Changing our lifestyles, including our diets, is going to be one of the crucial elements in cutting carbon emissions," said David Kennedy, chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change. Kennedy has stopped eating his favourite doner kebabs because they contain lamb. A government-sponsored study into greenhouse gases found that producing 2.2lb of lamb released the equivalent of 37lb of carbon dioxide.
The problem is because sheep burp so much methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Cows are only slightly better behaved. The production of 2.2lb of beef releases methane equivalent to 35lb of CO2 Tomatoes, most of which are grown in heated glasshouses, are the most "carbon-intensive" vegetable, each 2.2lb generating more than 20lb of CO2 Potatoes, in contrast, release only about 1lb of CO2 for each 2.2lb of food. The figures are similar for most other native fruit and vegetables.
"We are not saying that everyone should become vegetarian or give up drinking but moving towards less carbon intensive foods will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve health," said Kennedy.
The climate committee is analysing emissions from farming and will suggest measures to reduce them. However, it has concluded that people will have to change their habits.
Alcoholic drinks are another significant contributory factor, with the growing and processing of crops such as hops and malt into beer and whisky helping to generate 1.5% of the nation's greenhouse gases.
The Carbon Trust, a government-funded firm, is working with food and drink companies to calculate the "carbon footprints" of products - sometimes with surprising results. Coca-Cola, for example, generates only about half the greenhouse gas emissions of Innocent's "smoothies". Cadbury's chocolate generates about 4«lb of CO2 for every 2.2lb eaten - less than half that from the same weight of chicken.
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